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WWII-era plane crashes, kills 20 in Switzerland

By
Danielle Haynes
A helicopter involved in the salvage operation removing wreckage from the site following plane crash on Mount Piz Segnas is seen in Flims, Switzerland, on Sunday. Photo by Melanie Duchene/EPA-EFE
A helicopter involved in the salvage operation removing wreckage from the site following plane crash on Mount Piz Segnas is seen in Flims, Switzerland, on Sunday. Photo by Melanie Duchene/EPA-EFE

Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A vintage World War II-era plane crashed into a Swiss mountainside, killing all 20 people on board, local police said.

The Junkers JU-52 HB-HOT aircraft crashed Saturday in the Alps in eastern Switzerland with 17 passengers and three crew members on board for a sightseeing tour. The plane crashed at about 8,330 feet above sea level.

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"Based on the situation at the crash site we can say that the aircraft hit the ground almost vertically at a relatively high speed," said Daniel Knecht, head of aviation at the Swiss Accident Investigation Board.

The plane departed from an airport in Locarno and was en route to a military airfield in Zurich.

Investigators were attempting to determine the cause of the crash, though the aircraft had no data recorders -- aka black boxes.

"What we can rule out at this point is a mid-air collision before the crash, either with another aircraft or with some other obstacle such as a cable," Knecht said.

A witness told Swiss newspaper 20 Minutes that "the plane turned 180 degrees to the south and fell to the ground like a stone."

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Of those on board, three were Austrian and the rest were from Switzerland.

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